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April 15, 2010

CHINA: Toyota puts Lexus SUV launch plan on ice

Toyota has put plans to launch the new Lexus GX460 SUV in China have been put on ice after concerns about the car's roll-over risk surfaced in the US.

Toyota has put plans to launch the new Lexus GX460 SUV in China have been put on ice after concerns about the car’s roll-over risk surfaced in the US.

A Beijing-based company spokesman told The Wall Street Journal (WSJ) Toyota had been gearing up to launch the GX460 in the next few weeks but the plan was off for now after the company decided to temporarily halt the sale of the vehicle in the US.

Consumer Reports magazine earlier this week issued a rare “don’t buy” recommendation for the Lexus SUV, saying the car could roll over in certain situations.

“We have no idea when we might be able to launch the car” in China, Toyota spokesman Hitoshi Yokoyama said.

The company, he told the WSJ, is now trying to reconfirm the “quality” of the vehicle and is expected to make “appropriate responses” to those safety concerns depending on the outcome of the study to be conducted in Japan and the US.

Yokoyama added the uncertain future of the Lexus SUV in China was not likely to cause huge financial pain for Toyota . That’s in part because the company is expected to sell only a few thousand GX460s a year at most, he said.

In the US, Toyota sold about 4,800 of the GX460, priced from US$52,000, in the first quarter. It is also sold in Canada, the Middle East and Russia.

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